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Exuviae (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I pulled this lightly-used exoskeleton from my small garden pond in Brighton today. Length is about 4.5cm. Looks to me like one of the hawkers, but can anyone help with the species?

It was floating mid-table amid the weeds, though I guess it could have fallen from some pondside vegetation. Surely this is a final-instar nymph's cast-off outerwear?

Pond is only a couple of years old so I'm quite chuffed. Had damsels and dragons breeding last year, but nothing bigger than common darter.


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Swindon Addick

Registered User
Definitely one of the hawker-type dragonflies. In a small garden pond your most likely options are Emperor and Southern Hawker, although others are possible. It's a bit early for most of the species at the moment.

I'd be more confident if I was sure I could see the shape of the eyes, ideally with a photo from directly above, but my impression is it's an Emperor. The adult will have flown away from the pond to mature a bit before it tries to mate.

Incidentally, if you let it dry thoroughly, these can be kept more or less indefinitely. I have a Southern hawker one from last year in a drawer at work which I sometimes show off to colleagues.


Well-known member
Thank you! Don't know if these make it any clearer?

Found a couple more floating around yesterday, so maybe I can dry one of those out without losing all its legs!


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Paul Winter
I would dry them out - and then take a picture of it from above (and below by turning it over) getting your camera lens parallel (as possible) to the insect. An example in imperator_f_exuvia.jpg attached.

I've also attached a composite image comparing Southern Hawker and Emperor heads.

I'm pretty sure your pics are of an emperor exuvia. The second image in the original post shows the head shape quite well



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Well-known member
Thanks everyone for the really helpful advice.

I can't get a decent shot of underneath as the labium is extended and has dried a bit skewed.

Top view is here, in case it helps anyone come to a firm conclusion.


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